What’s in a name?

In roughly five weeks’ time, my brother and sister-in-law will be welcoming their first child into the world, taking over from me as the youngest person in our family.

While my brother wanted to know what they were expecting, my sister-in-law didn’t so it’s remained a surprise. I know very little about genetics or old wives tales about what the position of the bump means, but my feeling is that it’ll be a boy.

Speaking from experience, giving something a name can be hugely difficult. When I first met my dog as a 6-week-old puppy, there were many discussions about what he should be called.

We decided to name him Reuben.

IMG_0071I liked how uncommon the name was. It’s a name that lots of people have heard of but don’t necessarily know someone called it. When someone tells me they know a Reuben they tend to be described as a cheeky character, which suits my dog completely.

While it doesn’t matter to Reuben what he’s called, what my brother and sister-in-law name their child is of huge importance. Their name will (most probably) stay with them for life.


I can imagine that naming a film character is one of the most difficult parts of the creative process.

Two names I can think of that famously changed are ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Luke Skywalker’. At one point Indiana’s surname was going to be ‘Smith’ while ‘Skywalker’ was actually ‘Starkiller’.

StarkillerIt’s difficult to imagine the characters with different surnames, as their names are nearly as iconic as their personalities and actions. Though both are very common surnames, ‘Indiana Jones’ seems to roll off the tongue better than ‘Indiana Smith’ while ‘Starkiller’ suggests something dangerous and sinister.

Screenwriters who adapt a book, comic or TV series have it a lot easier, as the naming process has already been done.

Fantasy authors like JRR Tolkien and JK Rowling took inspiration from the English language to name their characters; Rowling has said that she chose the name ‘Dumbledore’, which is an Early Modern English word for ‘bumblebee’, because of the character’s love of music.


If I have a child, as well as bearing in mind the names of people I do and don’t like and whether it ‘fits’ with the surname, I’ll also think of any possible film character associations, good or bad, too.

For instance, I quite liked the name ‘Austin’ when I was younger due to the Mini connection but now I think more of Austin Powers… I might beat the kid to it and name them Reuben after the dog, following in Indiana Jones’ footsteps.

Pop back at the end of August to find out what the baby was called. If you have any suggestions or naming stories, leave a comment

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